Microwave Time Remainder Temporal Disorientation, a definition

Microwave Time Remainder Temporal Disorientation – definition: The disorientation experienced when the remaining cook time on a microwave display appears to be a feasible but inaccurate time of day.


1:15 PM: Suzie puts her leftover pork chops in the office microwave, enters 5:00, and hits Start. After 1 minutes and 17 seconds, she hears sizzling, opens the microwave door and takes her meal.

1:25 PM: John walks by the microwave, sees 3:43 on the display and thinks: “What!? My life is slipping away from me!”


Why an open Web is important when sea levels are rising

Cory Doctorow speaking on episode 221 of the excellent Changelog podcast:

“[t]here are things that are way more important than [whether in the internet should or shouldn’t be free]. There’s fundamental issues of economic justice, there’s climate change, there’s questions of race and gender and gender orientation, that are a lot more urgent than the future of the internet, but […] every one of those fights is going to be won or lost on the internet.”


On Surplus

“We as human beings find a way to waste most surpluses that technology hands to us.”

—Stewart Butterfield of Slack speaking on The Ezra Klein Show podcast.

He also makes a good analogy between our difficulty managing the new ability to communicate with anyone/anytime and the difficulty of dealing with the abundance of easy/cheap calories available to many of us.


I hate deals

One of my favourite tech-writers, Paul Miller from The Verge, has articulated something I’ve always felt, but have never been able to express well: I hate deals.

From Why I’m a Prime Day Grinch: I hate deals by Paul Miller:

Deals aren’t about you. They’re about improving profits for the store, and the businesses who distribute products through that store. Amazon’s Prime Day isn’t about giving back to the community. It’s about unloading stale inventory and making a killing.

But what about when you decide you really do want / need something, and it just happens to be on sale? Well, lucky you. I guess I’ve grown too bitter and skeptical. I just assume automatically that if something’s on sale AND I want to buy it, I must’ve messed up in my decision making process somewhere along the way.

I also hate parties and fun.


Things I’ve Done and Things to Come

When I look back on my life so far, the things that are the most satisfying and fulfilling are those I have built myself or with others.

I’ve never built a house, a piece of furniture, or much of anything physical at all. I have, however, helped to create some less tangible things that have been enormously rewarding.

As a mostly self-serving exercise, I’m going to list out these things that I’m proud to have created. I would encourage you to do the same.

My family is the most significant and important thing that I’ve helped to build. Though a family is a lot of work, it is a gift, not a product. It is so much more important than these other things that it really belongs in a separate category.

So, here are some things I have made (or helped to make):

I made a blog (Acts of Volition)

This weblog was started in August of 2000 with two friends (Rob and Matt). It went on to be the venue for me to write 160,000 words across over 1,200 posts. There have been over 10,000 real comments by real people on the site.

One post I made on this site in October of 2003 about the visual design of Mozilla products sparked the beginning of a personal and professional relationship with Firefox and Mozilla that has lasted for 13 years. It brought me to meet extraordinary people, visit Whistler, Toronto, Portland, San Francisco, Mountain View, and gather countless free t-shirts.

In the early years of the blog, when I was writing regularly, I felt it was a window into a real community. Many of the posts are links to things that were silly and many are now irrelevant. Some were more meaningful. All of them were fun or interesting (to me, at least).

I made a podcast (Acts of Volition Radio)

In 2003, I started a podcast that I described as “assembling a bit of music, talking about who it is and why I like it”. Over six years I produced 34 episodes, including 261 songs. That’s over 24 straight hours of music and me talking about music.

While it’s embarrassing to listen to myself ramble, especially in the earlier episodes, I’m not embarrassed of a single one of the songs I picked. People would tell me they discovered artists and songs from the podcast, and went on to buy their music or see them live. I love hearing this.

I have always claimed that Acts of Volition Radio had no publishing schedule. I still consider it alive – there’s just a still-growing seven-year gap between the last episode and the next. You never know.

Though the weblog and podcast were about connecting with people, they were primarily solitary creations. The following few are things I created in direct collaboration with others.

I made a conference, twice (Zap Your PRAM)

My friends Peter Rukavina and Dan James (along with help from others at silverorange), created a small conference we called Zap Your PRAM. We hosted it once in 2003, in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. Twenty-five or so extraordinary people came and spoke about film-making, the web, technology, radio, and whatever else interested them.

Five years later, in 2008, twice as many people came and spoke about music, radio, the web, and again, whatever else interested them. This second instance of the conference was hosted in the extraordinary Dalvay By-The-Sea hotel. I will never forget eating dinner with new friends in the Dalvay dining room, talking around the enormous lobby fireplace, or playing touch-football by the Dalvay lake.

These two conferences created friendships that continue over a decade later. There may yet be a third Zap (code-name Zap Your 3RAM). The five year gap between the first two isn’t enough to determine their regularity. Another could occur at any time.

I made an album (with Horton’s Choice)

I would highly recommend having been in a high-school rock band. For me, this band was Horton’s Choice. In addition to having a terrible band name, we were overly earnest and usually too loud. Our old website described us as follows:

Horton’s Choice was a rock band from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. We had delusions of grandeur, a lot of fun, spent a week in a recording studio in 1999, and then we broke up. A good time was had by all.

That recording studio was attached to a gift-shop in Borden-Carleton, at the Prince Edward Island side of the Confederation Bridge. It was a small and affordable studio with a studio tech who knew how to operate the recording equipment. We did everything else ourselves.

Each evening for a week, we worked from around 5pm until 11pm or so. We used the money we had made from our lousy part-time jobs to pay for the studio time. We recorded nine songs for a record that was never really named and never really released. I called it The Borden-Carleton Sessions. We had spent all of our money on recording and didn’t have any left over to produce actual CDs.

We weren’t a great band – but we loved playing together, and the recording we made is something I will always be proud (and a little embarrassed) of.

I made a company (silverorange)

Finally, something I helped to create that has probably had the most direct impact on my life and the lives of others is the company where I still work today.

In high school, a friend and I started a small web design business that was relatively successful given our modest goals. In 1999, we met a similar small company and joined with them to create silverorange.

There were seven (equal) founders. Three of the original seven moved on to bigger things, but the remaining four still work at and run silverorange today. In the sixteen years of silverorange, I’ve had the opportunity to work for amazing clients, like Mozilla, the original Digg, and Duolingo. We’ve helped companies sell seeds, crystalware, furniture hardware, medical education, and a ton of other things.

I’ve met and worked with people in many different companies and locations. I’ve had years early-on where I didn’t get paid. I’ve since helped to build something that now supports 11 great people. While it is a corporation – an intangible legal entity – silverorange has an office, clients, products, and most importantly people. It may be the closest I get to building a home.

While nostalgia can be fun, the reward of making, building, and creating isn’t confined to the past. I don’t know what else I’ll build, but experience tells me that if I really do build something, it will be worthwhile.


David Bazan on his music

David Bazan, (songwriter/musician of Pedro the Lion, Headphones, etc.) speaking on the podcast Conversations with Matt Dwyer:

“The vast majority of anybody who’s ever heard my music doesn’t want to hear it again.”

The entire interview is worth hearing. Come for the earnest discussion of music and spiritual crisis, stay for the humiliating pants-pooping-on-a-date story at the end.

Bazan’s band, Pedro the Lion, was featured in the inaugural episode of Acts of Volition Radio and again in Session 9 and Session 11.


Paul Leaves the Internet

Paul Miller, a tech journalist for The Verge, is leaving the Internet for a year. He’s an avid StarCraft II player, and writes about (and on) the web for a living. He’s going to continue to use a computer (offline) and continue to write for The Verge.

Miller is a great writer and I get the impression he lives online in the same way I do. I’m looking forward to living UN-vicariously through him as he documents his experience. His video introducing his project is also well done:


How long would it take to get to Kepler 22b?

Kepler 22b, the extrasolar planet discovered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope is apparently around 600 light years away. I wondered how long it would actually take for us to get something there. Maybe if we start today, we could surprise our descendants with a signal from a probe in a 10,000 years or so.

Apparently not. Using the current speed of the Voyager 2 probe as my unscientific example of “something flying through space real fast”, and the handy Wolfram Alpha service, it would take 11.64 million years to get to Kepler 22b.

I find this simultaneously boring and existentially terrifying.


BoingBoing delves much deeper into the idea of the (im)practicality and cost of interstellar travel. While Kepler 22b might be a boring 11-million-year flight away, the article discusses the nearest star, Alpha Centauri would would be a brisk 70,000 years or so.


That Oil Was For Us

While lamenting the state of the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, my wife pointed out that, as consumers of oil, we’re all a party to it. I seemed so obvious that I was embarrassed that it hadn’t occurred to me earlier. Most things in my life – the heat in my home and office, the gas in my car, and the plastics in so many of the good we consume – are all derived from petroleum products.

I don’t know if any of the oil I use (either directly or indirectly) comes from BP, or from the Gulf of Mexico. If anything, though, this lack of knowledge makes my role even worse.

Of course, if rules were broken (or the rules were inadequate), we should do our best to ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen again. Still, we can’t eschew our own role in creating the type of economic and regulatory environment where this type of of disaster can happen. They were drilling that oil for us.